The Human Instinct: How We Evolved to Have Reason, Consciousness, and Free Will

Kenneth R. Miller - 2018
    Scientists such as Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, and Sam Harris tell us that our most intimate actions, thoughts, and values are mere byproducts of thousands of generations of mindless adaptation. We are just one species among multitudes, and therefore no more significant than any other living creature. Now comes Brown University biologist Kenneth R. Miller to make the case that this view betrays a gross misunderstanding of evolution. Natural selection surely explains how our bodies and brains were shaped, but Miller argues that it’s not a social or cultural theory of everything. In The Human Instinct, he rejects the idea that our biological heritage means that human thought, action, and imagination are pre-determined, describing instead the trajectory that ultimately gave us reason, consciousness and free will. A proper understanding of evolution, he says, reveals humankind in its glorious uniqueness—one foot planted firmly among all of the creatures we’ve evolved alongside, and the other in the special place of self-awareness and understanding that we alone occupy in the universe. Equal parts natural science and philosophy, The Human Instinct is a moving and powerful celebration of what it means to be human.

Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy

Dave Mearns - 2005
    Focusing on the concept of 'relational depth', authors Dave Mearns and Mick Cooper describe a form of encounter in which therapist and client experience profound feelings of contact and engagement with each other and in which the client has an opportunity to explore whatever is experienced as most fundamental to her or his existence.

The Math Gene: How Mathematical Thinking Evolved And Why Numbers Are Like Gossip

Keith Devlin - 2000
    Devlin offers a breathtakingly new theory of language development that describes how language evolved in two stages and how its main purpose was not communication. Devlin goes on to show that the ability to think mathematically arose out of the same symbol-manipulating ability that was so crucial to the very first emergence of true language. Why, then, can't we do math as well as we speak? The answer, says Devlin, is that we can and do -- we just don't recognize when we're using mathematical reasoning.

Emotion: The Science of Sentiment

Dylan Evans - 2001
    S. Lewis claimed, or is it part of human nature? Will winning the lottery really make you happy? Is it possible to build robots that have feelings? These are just some of the intriguing questions explored in this new guide to the latest thinking about emotions. Drawing on a wide range of scientific research, from anthropology and psychology to neuroscience and artificial intelligence, Emotion: The Science of Sentiment takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the human heart. Illustrating his points with entertaining examples from fiction, film, and popular culture, Dylan Evans ranges from the evolution of emotions to the nature of love and happiness to the language of feelings, offering readers the most recent thinking on real life topics that touch us all.

Games Primates Play: An Undercover Investigation of the Evolution and Economics of Human Relationships

Dario Maestripieri - 2012
    The same rules regulate the exchange of grooming behavior in rhesus macaques or chimpanzees. Interestingly, some of the major aspects of human nature have profound commonalities with our ape ancestors: the violence of war, the intensity of love, the need to live together. While we often assume that our behavior in everyday situations reflects our unique personalities, the choices we freely make, or the influences of our environment, we rarely consider that others behave in these situations in almost the exact the same way as we do. In Games Primates Play, primatologist Dario Maestripieri examines the curious unspoken customs that govern our behavior. These patterns and customs appear to be motivated by free will, yet they are so similar from person to person, and across species, that they reveal much more than our selected choices.Games Primates Play uncovers our evolutionary legacy: the subtle codes that govern our behavior are the result of millions of years of evolution, predating the emergence of modern humans. To understand the rules that govern primate games and our social interactions, Maestripieri arms readers with knowledge of the scientific principles that ethologists, psychologists, economists, and other behavioral scientists have discovered in their quest to unravel the complexities of behavior. As he realizes, everything from how we write emails to how we make love is determined by the legacy of our primate roots and the conditions that existed so long ago. An idiosyncratic and witty approach to our deep and complex origins, Games Primates Play reveals the ways in which our primate nature drives so much of our lives.

Through Our Eyes Only?: The Search for Animal Consciousness

Marian Stamp Dawkins - 1993
    Others feel that the issue of animal consciousness is beyond the scope of science. In Through Our Eyes Only, Marian Stamp Dawkins presents the exciting new evidence in animal behavior that points to the existence of higher consciousness in some species. Here, Dawkins argues that the idea of consciousness in other species has now progressed from a vague possibility to a plausible, scientifically respectable view. Wild vervet monkeys seem to "know" which members of their group are reliable messengers of danger and which commonly cry wolf; vampire bats often give food to starving companions--but only to those who have helped them in the past. Through Our Eyes Only is an immensely engaging exploration of one of the greatest remaining biological mysteries: the possibility of conscious experiences in other species. Written in a lively style accessible to the general reader, the book aims to show just how near--and how far--we are to understanding animal consciousness.

Biology and Human Behavior: The Neurological Origins of Individuality

Robert M. Sapolsky - 2005
    Course Lecture Titles1. Biology and BehaviorAn Introduction 2. The Basic Cells of the Nervous System 3. How Two Neurons Communicate 4. Learning and Synaptic Plasticity 5. The Dynamics of Interacting Neurons 6. The Limbic System 7. The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) 8. The Regulation of Hormones by the Brain 9. The Regulation of the Brain by Hormones 10. The Evolution of Behavior 11. The Evolution of BehaviorSome Examples 12. Cooperation, Competition, and Neuroeconomics 13. What Do Genes Do? Microevolution of Genes 14. What Do Genes Do? Macroevolution of Genes 15. Behavior Genetics 16. Behavior Genetics and Prenatal Environment 17. An Introduction to Ethology 18. Neuroethology 19. The Neurobiology of Aggression I 20. The Neurobiology of Aggression II 21. Hormones and Aggression 22. Early Experience and Aggression 23. Evolution, Aggression, and Cooperation 24. A Summary

The Human Story

Robin I.M. Dunbar - 2004
    The ideas in Robin Dunbar's previous book, Grooming, Gossip and the Evolution of Language, have since become scientific orthodoxy, and this looks set to make an even bigger splash Incredibly influential and popular; all of Dunbar's events for the hardback were sell-outs, and there's much more publicity to come Attractive new cover treatment to appeal to the broad popular science/psychology readership of Robert Winston and Desmond Morris

The Mind is Flat: The Illusion of Mental Depth and The Improvised Mind

Nick Chater - 2018
    Nick Chater has blown my mind' Tim Harford'A total assault on all lingering psychiatric and psychoanalytic notions of mental depths ... Light the touchpaper and stand well back' New ScientistWe all like to think we have a hidden inner life. Most of us assume that our beliefs and desires arise from the murky depths of our minds, and, if only we could work out how to access this mysterious world, we could truly understand ourselves. For more than a century, psychologists and psychiatrists have struggled to discover what lies below our mental surface.In The Mind Is Flat, pre-eminent behavioural scientist Nick Chater reveals that this entire enterprise is utterly misguided. Drawing on startling new research in neuroscience, behavioural psychology and perception, he shows that we have no hidden depths to plumb, and unconscious thought is a myth. Instead, we generate our ideas, motives and thoughts in the moment. This revelation explains many of the quirks of human behaviour - for example why our supposedly firm political beliefs, personal preferences and even our romantic attractions are routinely proven to be inconsistent and changeable.As the reader discovers, through mind-bending visual examples and counterintuitive experiments, we are all characters of our own creation, constantly improvising our behaviour based on our past experiences. And, as Chater shows us, recognising this can be liberating.

Biological Anthropology: An Evolutionary Perspective

Barbara J. King - 2002
    King (William and Mary University) delves into the story of how, why, where, and when we became human. These lectures will help you understand the forces that have shaped, and continue to shape, our species. "An evolutionary perspective on human behavior," notes Dr. King, "results in more than just knowledge about dates and sites when and where specific evolutionary milestones likely occurred." "It is also a window on the past and future of our species. An entirely new way of thinking comes into focus when we consider the human species within an evolutionary perspective."A Century of ScholarshipWhile covering these subjects in this 24-lecture series, Dr. King synthesizes the best that more than a century of scientific scholarship has to offer across a variety of disciplines. Biological anthropologists study primate anatomy and behavior both to understand evolution and to learn more about our common ancestor. Biological anthropologists are joined by molecular anthropologists to better understand hominids by studying fossils, ancient skeletal remains, and lifestyle information such as cave art and stone tools. Case Studies that Clarify Evolution and Its Power Dr. King begins by explaining key mechanisms through which evolution functions, citing famous and definitive case studies that demonstrate these forces. In one such landmark study, for example, biologists Peter and Rosemary Grant returned to the Galapagos Islands more than 100 years after Darwin's first voyage to conduct research on island finches. In 1977, a drought-induced scarcity of soft, edible seeds brought forth in the very next generation a population of finches with larger, stronger beaks capable of crushing larger, tougher seeds. Extraordinarily, in 1985, heavy rains produced a surplus of softer seeds, and natural selection produced a succeeding generation of the smaller-beaked variety. Evolution had occurred in two different directions within a decade. This "natural selection" is the theoretical tool of evolution, which helps us make sense of these facts. Why Evolution Remains Important to Us Today Perhaps the greatest measure of this theory's power is its relevance to our lives today. - Did you know that the gene which causes sickle cell anemia must be inherited from both parents to cause the disease but the disease does not occur when only a single gene is inherited? - Or that the single gene, in fact, affords protection from malaria? Or that race, a category so securely ingrained in our consciousness, is practically meaningless in biological terms? - Or how to evaluate the claim that a gene can be responsible for a certain personality trait? A Glimpse Into Our Selected Primate Heritage With an understanding of the basic mechanisms of evolutionary change in hand, the course looks at how our ancient primate ancestors adapted. Consider the anatomical features we share with monkeys, great apes, and other primates. Our large brains, grasping hands, and forward-facing eyes allowing us to perceive depth are critical to the way we function in the world. Yet the fossil record tells us that some 70 million years ago these distinctive primate features did not exist. What caused the first primates to emerge from existing mammalian populations? One proposed solution was that the appearance of insects living in the lower canopies of trees offered a plentiful food resource to those species adapted to procure it. Could depth perception and grasping ability have provided an advantage here, and hence been naturally selected? This is the function of biological anthropology: confronting the facts, then suggesting and testing possibilities. A Course as Much About the Present as the PastWith so much of evolutionary history taken up with the past, the insights gained in these lectures may tempt you to add questions of your own: - Is human evolution still a force in today's world? Hasn't our modern, mobile culture rendered evolution irrelevant? - In fact, human evolution is a stronger force than ever, interacting with human culture in complex ways. Issues such as obesity, AIDS, and genetics are all discussed. And you may well find these lectures opening your eyes to the extraordinary ways in which the biological power of natural selection is still at work in the world today. Course Lecture Titles1. What is Biological Anthropology? 2. How Evolution Works 3. The Debate Over Evolution 4. Matter Arising—New Species 5. Prosimians, Monkeys, and Apes 6. Monkey and Ape Social Behavior 7. The Mind of the Great Ape 8. Models for Human Ancestors? 9. Introducing the Hominids 10. Lucy and Company 11. Stones and Bones 12. Out of Africa 13. Who Were the Neandertals? 14. Did Hunting Make Us Human? 15. The Prehistory of Gender 16. Modern Human Anatomy and Behavior 17. On the Origins of Homo sapiens 18. Language 19. Do Human Races Exist? 20. Modern Human Variation 21. Body Fat, Diet, and Obesity 22. The Body and Mind Evolving 23. Tyranny of the Gene? 24. Evolution and Our Future

Darwin's Unfinished Symphony: How Culture Made the Human Mind

Kevin N. Laland - 2017
    How did the human mind--and the uniquely human ability to devise and transmit culture--evolve from its roots in animal behavior? Darwin's Unfinished Symphony presents a captivating new theory of human cognitive evolution. This compelling and accessible book reveals how culture is not just the magnificent end product of an evolutionary process that produced a species unlike all others--it is also the key driving force behind that process.Kevin Laland shows how the learned and socially transmitted activities of our ancestors shaped our intellects through accelerating cycles of evolutionary feedback. The truly unique characteristics of our species--such as our intelligence, language, teaching, and cooperation--are not adaptive responses to predators, disease, or other external conditions. Rather, humans are creatures of their own making. Drawing on his own groundbreaking research, and bringing it to life with vivid natural history, Laland explains how animals imitate, innovate, and have remarkable traditions of their own. He traces our rise from scavenger apes in prehistory to modern humans able to design iPhones, dance the tango, and send astronauts into space.This book tells the story of the painstaking fieldwork, the key experiments, the false leads, and the stunning scientific breakthroughs that led to this new understanding of how culture transformed human evolution. It is the story of how Darwin's intellectual descendants picked up where he left off and took up the challenge of providing a scientific account of the evolution of the human mind.

A Natural History of Human Thinking

Michael Tomasello - 2014
    In this much-anticipated book, Michael Tomasello weaves his twenty years of comparative studies of humans and great apes into a compelling argument that cooperative social interaction is the key to our cognitive uniqueness. Once our ancestors learned to put their heads together with others to pursue shared goals, humankind was on an evolutionary path all its own.Tomasello argues that our prehuman ancestors, like today's great apes, were social beings who could solve problems by thinking. But they were almost entirely competitive, aiming only at their individual goals. As ecological changes forced them into more cooperative living arrangements, early humans had to coordinate their actions and communicate their thoughts with collaborative partners. Tomasello's "shared intentionality hypothesis" captures how these more socially complex forms of life led to more conceptually complex forms of thinking. In order to survive, humans had to learn to see the world from multiple social perspectives, to draw socially recursive inferences, and to monitor their own thinking via the normative standards of the group. Even language and culture arose from the preexisting need to work together. What differentiates us most from other great apes, Tomasello proposes, are the new forms of thinking engendered by our new forms of collaborative and communicative interaction.A Natural History of Human Thinking is the most detailed scientific analysis to date of the connection between human sociality and cognition.

Why We Lie: The Evolutionary Roots of Deception and the Unconscious Mind

David Livingstone Smith - 2004
    Even the founding myth of the Judeo-Christian tradition, the story of Adam and Eve, revolves around a lie. We have been talking, writing and singing about deception ever since Eve told God, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." Our seemingly insatiable appetite for stories of deception spans the extremes of culture from King Lear to Little Red Riding Hood, retaining a grip on our imaginations despite endless repetition. These tales of deception are so enthralling because they speak to something fundamental in the human condition. The ever-present possibility of deceit is a crucial dimension of all human relationships, even the most central: our relationships with our very own selves.Now, for the first time, philosopher and evolutionary psychologist David Livingstone Smith elucidates the essential role that deception and self-deception have played in human--and animal--evolution and shows that the very structure of our minds has been shaped from our earliest beginnings by the need to deceive. Smith shows us that by examining the stories we tell, the falsehoods we weave, and the unconscious signals we send out, we can learn much about ourselves and how our minds work.Readers of Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker will find much to intrigue them in this fascinating book, which declares that our extraordinary ability to deceive others--and even our own selves--"lies" at the heart of our humanity.

The Gap: The Science of What Separates Us from Other Animals

Thomas Suddendorf - 2013
    Our minds have spawned civilizations and technologies that have changed the face of the Earth, whereas even our closest animal relatives sit unobtrusively in their dwindling habitats. Yet despite longstanding debates, the nature of this apparent gap has remained unclear. What exactly is the difference between our minds and theirs? In The Gap, psychologist Thomas Suddendorf provides a definitive account of the mental qualities that separate humans from other animals, as well as how these differences arose. Drawing on two decades of research on apes, children, and human evolution, he surveys the abilities most often cited as uniquely human -- language, intelligence, morality, culture, theory of mind, and mental time travel -- and finds that two traits account for most of the ways in which our minds appear so distinct: Namely, our open-ended ability to imagine and reflect on scenarios, and our insatiable drive to link our minds together. These two traits explain how our species was able to amplify qualities that we inherited in parallel with our animal counterparts; transforming animal communication into language, memory into mental time travel, sociality into mind reading, problem solving into abstract reasoning, traditions into culture, and empathy into morality. Suddendorf concludes with the provocative suggestion that our unrivalled status may be our own creation -- and that the gap is growing wider not so much because we are becoming smarter but because we are killing off our closest intelligent animal relatives. Weaving together the latest findings in animal behavior, child development, anthropology, psychology, and neuroscience, this book will change the way we think about our place in nature. A major argument for reconsidering what makes us human, The Gap is essential reading for anyone interested in our evolutionary origins and our relationship with the rest of the animal kingdom.

The Intelligence Paradox: Why the Intelligent Choice Isn't Always the Smart One

Satoshi Kanazawa - 2012
    Miller) was hailed by the "Los Angeles Times" as "a rollicking bit of pop science that turns the lens of evolutionary psychology on issues of the day." That book answered such burning questions as why women tend to lust after males who already have mates and why newborns look more like Dad than Mom. Now Kanazawa tackles the nature of intelligence: what it is, what it does, what it is good for (if anything). Highly entertaining, smart (dare we say intelligent?), and daringly contrarian, "The Intelligence Paradox" will provide a deeper understanding of what intelligence is, and what it means for us in our lives.Asks why more intelligent individuals are not better (and are, in fact, often worse) than less intelligent individuals in solving some of the most important problems in life--such as finding a mate, raising children, and making friends Discusses why liberals are more intelligent than conservatives, why atheists are more intelligent than the religious, why more intelligent men value monogamy, why night owls are more intelligent than morning larks, and why homosexuals are more intelligent than heterosexuals Explores how the purpose for which general intelligence evolved--solving evolutionarily novel problems--allows us to explain why intelligent people have the particular values and preferences they haveChallenging common misconceptions about the nature of intelligence, this book offers surprising insights into the cutting-edge of science at the intersection of evolutionary psychology and intelligence research.